Aloo Keema ~ Vegan Mince & Potato Curry Recipe

I love a good curry. Who doesn’t? I mean, you get tons of vegetables and rice steeped in delicious and vibrant flavors, sometimes spicy with your favorite vegan meat alternative and it’s just a big bowl of goodness. Unlike soup, I am never opposed to eating a curry in the heart of summer of the depths of winter.

And I recently discovered Aloo Keema, a dish that originated in Pakistan/Northern India that has the simplest of ingredients: mince, potatoes and rice with bread if you choose to double-carb it.

The flavors of the dish really appealed to me so I figured, why not?

Vegan Aloo Keema ~ Mince & Potato Curry

As far as vegan curry recipes go, this is a pretty easy one with a manageable list of vegan ingredients.

One Pot Vegan Italian Sausage Bake

We have to eat. It’s a necessity for all that messy breathing, heart beating, brain function stuff. But that doesn’t mean we always have the time, the mental or physical energy to spend thirty minutes in the kitchen whipping up something nutritious and delicious.

You can opt for nutritious only, but what would be the point?

One of my favorite things to create when I’m not in the mood to cook, is a one pot meal. You can prep as you go, rinsing, chopping and weighing the food before tossing it into a casserole dish. Season everything together and toss, then all you have to do is pop it in the oven.

Alternately, you can cook any one pot vegan meal on a baking sheet if you want to diversify the flavor profile of the different vegetables.

Either way, it’s a lot less dishes and the oven does all the work. Where’s the flaw in that vegan recipe?

vegan sausage and potato veggie bake

This is a one pot vegan meal that you add to the rotation because the ingredients are so simple.

Vegan Takeout Recipes ~ Mongolian Tofu & Rice

When you’re in the mood for a nice hot vegan meal that won’t have you in the kitchen all day, here’s my advice: grab a grain, a protein, a vegetable and make a quick sauce. In thirty minutes (give or take) you’ll have a delicious vegan meal that will make you feel good about yourself.

Bonus points, it’ll satisfy your hunger.

If you’re familiar with the popular Chinese takeout dish, Mongolian beef, you’ll be very happy you popped over to The Spicy Spatula today, because we have veganized this popular takeout dish and made it our very own.

The great thing about popular vegan takeout dishes, is that you can make them as simple or as complicated as you want, depending on your time constraints. As you can see from the photo above, the ingredient list isn’t all that complicated but it’s the sauce that gives this Mongolian Tofu most of the flavor.

Weird But Good Vegan Recipes: Spicy Tofu & Sauerkraut

Let’s keep it real, when it comes to cooking not every meal can be a gourmet masterpiece or the very definition of healthy and nutritious. We hope for one of those of two, but sometimes you just want what you want. Right?

That’s pretty much how this easy vegan meal came about. I felt like having something spicy but I didn’t want to go crazy with calories and I didn’t want to make something that would cost too much time in the kitchen because I was furiously trying to get my book properly formatted so the paperback could be completed.

Update/Shameless promotion: How Could I Forget is finally ready to order in paperback and digital!

Luckily for me, I found some leftover sauerkraut and decided…why the heck not? I love sauerkraut actually. I spent a part of my childhood in Wisconsin where I experienced many Oktoberfest celebrations and learned a lot about German and Polish culture. Then, I went on to spend about 8 years living in Germany, so yeah, sauerkraut is my jam! But, I’ve never used it out side of my seitan & kraut style recipes. So I did what any internet savvy home cook does, I consulted Google to find out other ways to use sauerkraut and what to pair it with.

Turns out, it makes an excellent side dish, with only a little prep time.

Since we’ve talked so much about the kraut, let’s start with that. I like to rinse it a little just so the taste isn’t quite so vinegar-y, then drain and set aside. Chop up one onion and a few cloves of garlic to saute (in oil or water) and when they start to crisp and turn brown, add the kraut. Cook until warm OR you can just turn off the stove and stir together if you want the full health benefits of fermented foods.

While the onions & garlic are cooking, you should re-hydrate your soya (TVP) if that’s what you’re using because that’s why I used in this easy vegan recipe, but you can always use whatever vegan protein floats your boat. I used the big pieces because there’s a lot of surface to cover in yummy spicy sauce and because I wanted a reason to break out my new air fryer!

While the soy chunks are in the air fryer, I added a bunch of spices to a bowl along with soy sauce and just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste/sauce that would work for a tossed coating. My spices: smoky & spicy paprika, garlic granules, ground ginger, harissa powder, piri piri, turmeric and cumin. When the timer beeps, remove the crispy vegan tofu wings and toss in the spice mixture.

If you’re my kind of vegan home cook and you tend to make foods a little on the spicier side, consider adding a cooling sauce for those in your home who don’t love spicy vegan foods the way you do.

I opted for a veggiegurt sauce with lemon juice, cumin, parsley and oregano. The hubs said it helped with the heat…a lot.

If you’re in the market for quick and easy vegan recipes, you will be happy to know that this recipe took about 30 minutes and that includes entering the ingredients into Cronometer.

What do you like to pair with your vegan hot wings?

Spicy Soya Bulgogi

Most days I know what I’m going to eat because I am a planner. I plan out the menu each week, create a corresponding grocery list complete with a few snack options for those nights I feel like munching. So yeah, I plan things.

But this week as I sat in the living room waiting for my husband to finished getting dressed while I reconciled with menu with my shopping list app, I found a video for Bulgogi, which I haven’t had since we lived in Los Angeles…a million years ago. Of course this dish was made semi-traditionally and by that, I mean it contained meat, which was no problem because I recently got my hands on Inedit brand textured soya, which I’ve used before but only the big chunks and the cubes. It’s a great dehydrated soy product that you simmer in water to hydrate and then cook per your recipe instructions.

Slowly this vegan bulgogi idea was coming together.

As with any good vegan-ized recipe, you have to be careful because although you can totally make the dish, you might have to juggle around some of the steps to make it work. Step one: get the soy granules into the water and get them going. The package says it needs 20-25 minutes but I think about 10 to 12 is sufficient.

Okay, so here’s the thing about making bulgogi. Mostly it is a spicy beef dish and home cooks like myself often use some sort of ground up product, rather than whole pieces, and you should know up front that I didn’t do a big deep dive into the history of the dish or anything so complicated. I saw a recipe on YouTube and made some adjustments for my plant based diet and weight loss goals.

Now, that’s out of the way…let’s keep going.

My ingredients: shallots, onion, scallions, ginger, Thai curry paste, piripiri peppers, ginger and portobello mushroom caps, just to enhance the satiety of the dish. Oh and I used ramen style noodles instead of rice. And four leftover grape tomatoes for the liquid and lycopene.

The mushrooms went into the skillet first so cook out some of the water before adding the soy texture, which also has some water that you’ll want to cook out for some recipes and keep for others. I planned for a spicy-ish sauce so I wanted them fairly dry. Next went the shallots, onions and ginger.

Add seasoning as you need it, later adding the garlic and tomatoes near the last few minutes of cooking. Then grab a bowl and whip up the bulgogi sauce, which for me contained: soy sauce, That curry paste, hot chili paste, harissa powder, curry, cumin and lemongrass powder. Toss in some water and cornstarch if you want a thicker sauce to coat the noodles, and dump it in the pot…but not before the noodle or rice water gets started cooking.

When you’re ready to put everything together, then you can dump the sauce into the skillet and bring to a boil Simmer until the sauce is thickened and taste for extra flavor. The sesame seeds were a last minute addition after I put the recipe into Cronometer and saw that I had some calorie wiggle room, but in total I added 5 grams of sesame seeds.

 

This is a pretty easy vegan dish to make but like many of my favorite Asian recipes, it does have a bit of prep time. There’s a lot of chopping to be done, so make time for it and you won’t regret it.

I promise!

What recipe do you want to see next? Drop a comment below.

 

Quick & Easy Spicy Vegan Mushroom Orzo

One of the things I’m guilty of doing when it comes to cooking is getting stuck in a rut. Not a bad rut, but I’ll create recipes surrounding the same ingredients, like bulgur or rice, when there are tons of other grains I could be using. It’s one of the reason I am obsessed with watching cooking shows whether it’s on YouTube or regular television. Thanks to a show with Grill Master Supreme, Bobby Flay, I was reminded of how much I enjoy orzo.

Before anyone gets upset, yes I do know that orzo is a pasta but it’s shaped like rice so I consider it both, depending on the recipe. And for this particular recipe, I used it as a plain ol’ grain.

If you’re unfamiliar with orzo, this is what it looks like, a pasta rice if you will. Anyway it is very easy to cook–boil in salted or unsalted water as the package indicates and then drain–and very versatile as you’re about to learn! But you have to make sure you season the dish properly because otherwise you’ll end up with a bland dish.

We eat a lot of mushrooms in our house. Like, a lot. Sometimes as a meat replacement in things like shredded BBQ mushroom sandwiches or a plant based mushroom bourguignon, but also just because mushrooms are delicious and go great with just about everything. So we have orzo and we have mushrooms…what else?

That’s what makes this meal so quick and easy, it has just a few ingredients: crimini mushrooms, onions, garlic and orzo. Of course you’ll have to add herbs & spices but you have those anyway so you don’t have to buy a ton of extras.

Since orzo is a pasta, I recommend cooking it separately so this isn’t a one pot meal, but it’s close enough that you can keep this vegan recipe in your back pocket for those lazy weeknights.

I didn’t use oil because mushrooms produce SO MUCH water that it really wasn’t necessary, but feel free to add it if you think you need it. I cooked the mushrooms first until most of the water had cooked out, then I added the onions (an onion & shallot blend because we’re always trying to diversify the flavor profile!) and allowed them to use some of the mushroom water to cook without sticking to the pan.

When the onions start to crisp a little around the edges, add the garlic. For this recipe I used about 8 cloves, maybe 10 because I planned to add some heat to it and the Hubs can’t handle too much heat.

For herbs & spices, I used a pinch of curry, baharrat, scotch bonnet powder and smoky paprika. These flavors when combined made this dish taste like it had been cooking for hours, which is also a great way to increase the gratitude for those you cook for!

When everything was done, I tossed it all together, using about a quarter cup of the orzo water to give the dish a hint of creaminess without adding any actual cream.

But it turns out that I added maybe one or two too many spices because I had to grab some vegan yogurt for the hubs…

Good news is that the yogurt & lime mixture was a great addition to the meal, according to him anyway so feel free to get (a little) carried away with your spice rack with the confidence that a little bit of yogurt will go a long way.

And you know I had to wash it down with something delicious…right?

Ice cold with a delicious flavor profile, I’d say this beer was created to go with a variety of mushroom dishes.

Vegan Fish Steaks & Veggie Medley

I’ve made no secret of my desire to keep my plate as plant based as possible with the exception of tofu (is tofu not plant based?) but since I went on an ordering spree a week or so ago, I decided to go all the way.

And let me tell ya, not all results were pleasant.

Enter, vegan fish steaks.

This is another gem from the folks at Vantastic Foods, which I’ve been a fan of since I tasted their soy jerky, but this particular product was chosen by The Hubs which is kind of weird since he was vegetarian for two years before going vegan while I scarfed up trout (regenbogen for those of you fluent in Deutsch!) like it was going out of business. I skipped right over the fish products page because I had no interest in them. Another reason we make such a good team.

You can probably see the biggest source of MY own displeasure just by taking a quick look at the list of ingredients. Noriblatter is German for nori sheets, as in seaweed, which I am not a fan of. I can admit that since going vegan I don’t mind it as much because I think my taste buds just didn’t enjoy the blend of nori and raw fish.

Anyway my number one problem with this product was the overwhelming fishy scent. Even when i was a meat eater I NEVER would have purchased or eaten fish that smelled like this since that means it’s bad. But for the sake of science and not wasting money, I had to give it a try and…it wasn’t bad.

It wasn’t great, but combined with seasoned vegetables, it was edible. With hot sauce.

The Hubs cooked this meal and the “steaks” were seasoned beautifully and capped off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice which is about all you can do for filets this small. A couple minutes in a skillet and these babies are ready to eat.

The mixed curried vegetables helped mask the fishy scent, which weirdly disappeared after about five minutes. Too bad my brain couldn’t erase the smell.

I have learned a very important lesson as a vegan and I suggest that everyone makes this decision for themselves. I don’t need my vegan foods to taste like their formerly living counterparts. I like my burgers tasting like chickpeas, lentils and tofu and I’m totally fine with using plain tofu to transform a former favorite dish of mine. I stopped eating that stuff for a reason and giving me something that smells like fish only reminds me of that.

The Hubs actually liked them and later this week–maybe–I’ll show you how his fish fingers turned out. Spoiler alert: as delicious as your five year old self remembers.

I found that a ice cold red ale Beck’s was the perfect way to wash this down!

What vegan products have you tried that you wish you hadn’t?

Vegans On Holiday: Hunedoara, Alba Iulia, Deva & Sighisoara (Romania)

One of my favorite things, aside from food, is traveling. In every place I have ever lived, I have done some serious exploring of the local and near-local sights. Of course I never get to see everything but I get to see a lot so I won’t complain. Much.

Recently the Hubs and I took a 3 day getaway to see more of Romania. There was a castle because of course there was a castle I happened upon thanks to a Facebook recommendation, Castle Corvinilor and that was our second stop on the first day.

From a distance it looks imposing but up close it looks like…a castle. Very cool and still incredibly imposing, only less so.

But as these things tend to go, the view from inside the castle…much better.

The view from one of the inside “windows”.

The day was off to a great start even though the temperature was around 30° C by the time noon rolled around. I made sandwiches for the road because there are very few roadside shops that have ANY vegan food offerings other than fries, which let’s be clear, I will never pass up an opportunity to eat fries but sometimes it’s nice to have more than one option for food.

The first night we ate at a place called Remeny’s and the food was…okay. We had garlic bruschetta toasts to start which was delicious. The soup was bland and overly hot, but to be fair it was vegetable soup. Then we got…you guessed it fried potatoes and a grilled vegetable plate from the a la carte section. The gin & grapefruit cocktail I had was pretty delicious, if a little light on the ice.

The next day we were in Alba Iulia which I have to tell you was my ABSOLUTE favorite part of this trip. Who knew this place had such a rich history?

A few things I learned:

The Thracians (as in Spartacus) are Romanian

The Romans made it this far and conquered parts of this land

There are a lot of torture chambers

The museum on Roman history in Romania is AMAZING

After spending the morning soaking up the beautiful sights and the incredibly hot rays of sun, we spent a few hours on the road towards Sighisoara, but…food.

Twenty minutes at a rest stop and we found a Chinese restaurant in a small town called Deva, with vegan options.

My day was made. I burned a zillion calories walking all around the citadel in Alba Iulia, plus the museum, a fortress and a fantastic obelisk and I got to eat spring rolls, a delicious mushroom potato dish covered in a thick, spicy sweet soy sauce. And we can’t forget vegan noodles!

I am truly sorry to say that this was one of those times where I was too hot, too hungry and yeah, maybe a little bit too cranky to think about taking photos so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a great find. Good Chinese food has, so far, been lacking in this part of the continent.

…parts of another amazing fortress!

Finally we made it to Sighisoara, which for those of you who don’t know, still has tons of leftover influence from its days as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which means lots of German (a good thing for me since my Romanian language stills are floundering). It turned out that the German influence came in very handy when it came to eating in Sighisoara.

Thanks to Alte Post, a German Gasthaus, we were both able to find (only 2) vegan dishes while our travel companions found plenty of animal-based dishes too.

We got started with beer and muraturi, which is just Romanian for pickled vegetables. They taste a little different than American style pickling but they are very, very delicious. The sauerkraut was part of the German thing, but it was still damn tasty.

Tofu steaks and grilled vegetables with a balsamic reduction. It was good but ordinary, exactly what I’d make if I was feeling super lazy during the week. But again, better than fries. Mostly.

I appreciated their restaurant having a nod to Romania with the vegan sarmale and mamaliga, but it was nothing to write home about. Everything was under-seasoned but after another long day with a lot of walking, it was nice to have a full meal instead of a table filled with side dishes.

But the highlight for me in Sighisoara, was Teo’s Cellar.

Of course.

But this is what you see when you first enter because it’s also a B&B right inside the citadel…as in part of the citadel!

This guy, Teo, was great. His cellar was very cool with all these different ways to drink his different creations while he told us all about the awards he’s won all over Europe and the world. We did a tasting of Palinka, Tuica and Cognac and they were all so delicious I didn’t know what to buy/taste first.

In the end we bought 3 small bottles for friends & family and 1 big bottle of Palinka for ourselves.

We made an impromptu stop at Rupea Fortress on the way home because…it was there!

Overall it was a great trip, very relaxing and I learned a lot. Having vegan options, no matter how slim, is always better than not. The key is to do your research ahead of time to avoid frustrations. We had three options listed but it turns out having salad and fries for some places counts as “vegan options”.

Vegan Recipes That Didn’t Make The Cut

One of the things I’ve learned while blogging about my cooking adventures as a vegan, is that not all recipes are created equal.

Duh, right? That’s what I thought too.

But it turns out that for a home cook who specializes in taste, not sight, it’s not that simple.

So I thought today it’d be fun to go through some of the recipes that didn’t make the cut, mostly because they didn’t photograph well but sometimes we were too hungry to take photos before diving in and eating. Sometimes they didn’t turn out–photo wise–how I thought they would or wanted them to. So I scrapped them.

Until today.

This was my attempt at a vegan quiche, not to recreate the eggy flavor of quiche, but just the essence of quiche if you will. I used cornmeal and flour, a couple vegan eggs, almond milk and chopped veggies. It was very tasty but it needed to cook a bit longer and I think I need about 30 grams more of cornmeal.

I was a little liberal with the vegan cheese on top but as you can see it wasn’t very good about melting, but don’t worry I’ll spare you my gripes about the state of vegan cheese. This time.

Then I made a delicious and simple spaghetti dish. Fresh Roma tomatoes blended with sun dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, piri piri and whole wheat spaghetti. It was yummy. Turns out, not so photogenic.

Spaghetti always provides an excellent excuse to indulge in a little vegan parm.

Maybe there’s something about pasta dishes, because my husband made a sort of mac & cheese pie, using these “macheroni” that are long like spaghetti but they’re hollow so when they expand after cooking they are gigantic. He tried to tame them and with the help of cumin, turmeric, smoky paprika, tofu in salty water (called saramura in Romanian) it was pretty tasty.

But not too pretty to look at.

Then there’s my go to dish when I’m lazy and hungry: fresh veggies & Asian noodles.

Tastes good, but when you add the noodles the photos are weird so enjoy this photo of the oyster mushrooms, asparagus, bell pepper and onions before they were tossed onto a bed of noodles.

Simple vegan meals are always great because they take almost no time but taste like they took a long time!

…and sometimes the chili is a tad too water-y.

With avocado for him and without for me. 😀

And then there are the photos that just don’t do a meal justice, like this vegan gnocchi with green sauce.

Though I hope you enjoyed my missteps, I hope this teaches you a valuable lesson in that you don’t have to worry if a dish isn’t pretty. Unless you have kids, then I’m told that sometimes matters.

Make taste and nutrition, not photo-worthiness, a priority.

Vegan Sunday Dinner for Two!

We’re not really a ‘Sunday Dinner’ kind of household. That’s a day that we often spend working since we both work for ourselves and it means that we can schedule dates and outings during the week when the stores, restaurants and roads aren’t nearly as crowded. Since Sunday around the world seems to be recognized as a day to go out and BE out, we’ve gotten used to staying inside.

But there was a delicious batch of turnips at the supermarket last week and I just couldn’t resist. Truthfully, I had no plans for them specifically and when we got home, I tossed the bag in the veg crisper and forgot about it.

Pretty much.

But after a week of working crazy hours in anticipation of another mini-holiday, I’d gotten off schedule and completely forgot it was my night to cook. Thinking of those turnips, I hoped the bag wasn’t filled with more yellow leaves than green.

Lucky me, they were still in excellent shape…now I just had to figure out what to make with them.

Enter Sunday Dinner on Saturday.

Since this meal wasn’t planned–at all–I had to go pantry hunting. I knew I had to do something with the turnips so immediately I thought mashed potatoes. But then I was like, but turnips aren’t that great on their own, and I decided to add two medium potatoes to the pot with the 3 turnips. Boil 20-30 minutes or until tender, then drain and reserve some of the water.

I know this is probably controversial because people LOVE to put milk and butter (vegan or otherwise) into their mashed potatoes but I like to use the water to minimize how much fat I’m adding to each dish. But I did use vegan butter and about 5 cloves of garlic and a tablespoon of dried basil for creamy, yummy, vegan vegetable mash.

Rather than hand mashing, I added everything to the pot and used a hand mixer and it made all the difference. They were silky smooth and so flavorful my husband has decided that this is what mashed potatoes should be from now on.

Next up, the “chicken”.

I’ve been experimenting with those dehydrated soy products to see if there’s a discernible difference between them and tofu. Let me tell you, there is. But mostly in a good way. I used the large chunks, simmering them for 15 minutes in seasoned water and then letting them sit for another 15. When they were cool enough to handle I cut them into pieces and made a barbecue sauce to toss them in.

The sauce was tomato paste, coconut sugar, Korean chili flakes, cumin, water and 1/2 tablespoon of habanero hot sauce. Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and then put it in your belly!

All that was left was the turnip greens and they were super easy. Saute two large sliced onions and then add the washed & dried turnip greens to the pot in batches until tender and delicious.

Best of all, this meal served two and came in under 500 calories per serving!!!

It was a delicious meal that reminded me of Sundays at either of my grandmother’s houses with the whole family gathered, only it was quieter. And with less animal products.